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Zim commemorates 45th anniversary of Kavalamanja battles

By ZBC Reporter

The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Cde Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri was in Zambia where she officiated on commemorations of the battle of Kavalamanja.
We publish below the minister’s speech in full.

SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS AFFAIRS ON THE 45TH ANNIVESARY COMMEMORATION OF THE KAVALAMANJA BATTLES

Guest of Honour and Minister of Defence of the Republic of Zambia; Hon. Ambrose Lufuma;
Your Excellency, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Ambassador Charity Charamba
Cabinet Ministers of the Republic of Zambia;
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education of the Republic of Zimbabwe and former Woman Combatant during the Struggle, Hon Evelyn Ndlovu
Lusaka Provincial Minister, Mrs Sheal Mulyata
Permanent Secretary of Defence Zambia, Mr Norman Chipakupaku
Government Officials here present;
Senior Defence and Security Services Commanders;
Luangwa District Commissioner;
The Kavalamanja and Kakaro community;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends;
All Protocol observed;
Good Morning

On behalf of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa, Government and the people of Zimbabwe, let me express our profound gratitude for the honour and privilege extended to Zimbabwe to be part of the 45th Anniversary commemoration of the Kavalamanja and Kakaro Battles. The days March 5 and 6 remain etched in our hearts and minds as it brings sorrowful memories to the people of Zambia and Zimbabwe on the brutality of the settlegr regime that massacred our gallant sons and daughters in 1978 on this site. As the people of Zimbabwe, we cannot celebrate our sovereignty and independence without acknowledging the supreme sacrifice made by the people of the Republic of Zambia and the collective effort of the Frontline States and others, for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

The battle of Kalavamanja, which occurred on 05/06 March 1978, occupies a special place in our struggle for emancipation from colonialism in the region and indeed on the African continent. It would therefore be remiss of any account of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, not to mention the pivotal role played by her neighbouring states also known as the Frontline States namely; Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. These states were bound together by an unbreakable bond of conviction, resolve and desire for the liberation of Southern Africa as guided by the principles of the Lusaka Manifesto of 1969. The Manifesto was anchored on a firm commitment to equality and self-determination of the peoples of Southern Africa from colonial bondage.

Zambia, like other Frontline States, offered sanctuary and a second home to young men and women who left Southern Rhodesia (as it was known then), to fight the colonial settler regime. As a people, you offered training and transit bases in your quest to see Zimbabwe liberated, which was a selfless sacrifice to your own national security. You bore the brunt of cross-border raids and pre-emptive strikes by the settler regime, which were targeting rear bases of Zimbabwean freedom fighters. During these incursions, the Rhodesian Terrorists did not spare your economic infrastructure and access routes, particularly road and rail bridges. Together with the people of Mozambique, you bore disproportionate and unprecedented levels of these heinous attacks by the settler regime in her thrust for the strangulation of the economic and to frustrate the war effort by the Frontline States. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenge, Zambia was relentless and determined to fight for the independence of Zimbabwe. She exuded a great deal of valor and resolve until the Rhodesians were forced to hand over power to the black majority in 1980.
The rear and transit bases offered by the Republic of Zambia provided semi-permanent logistical hubs for operations into the then Rhodesia. ZAPU/ZIPRA had bases along the Zambezi River from Livingstone area to Kavalamanja area. Freedom fighters would recover and replenish in these areas on their way to and from Rhodesia on operational tasks. As the liberation war tempo increased, the Smith Regime launched cross-border raids targeting not only combatants but innocent civilians as well, in a bid to stem out the impetus. Feira (Kavalamanja) Base which housed the Headquarters of one of the three frontal regions in the North was attacked several times, culminating into this two (02) day battle. During this battle both the Zambian Army and ZIPRA Forces heroically fought the Rhodesians and managed to repel the attack, of course at a cost of many lives of the gallant sons and daughters of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The battle claimed the lives of about 26 Zambian soldiers, 11 civilians and 28 Zimbabwean guerrillas. Apart from this battle, we are also reminded of many scars that happened in similar battles across Zambia, at such places as Freedom Camp, Mulungushi, Solwezi and many others. The enemy also assassinated some of Zimbabwe’s great leaders and revolutionaries such as Hebert Chitepo in 1975 and Jason Ziyaphapa Moyo in 1977 here in Zambia, in a bid to frustrate the war effort.
After we gained our independence and in recognition and honour of the fallen heroes of the Kavalamanja Battle, it was befitting to construct a monument at the site of the battle. A joint decision was also made by the Zambia and Zimbabwe Governments during the 2020 commemorations, to build the Kavalamanja Memorial School as a permanent reminder. The Zimbabwe government pledged to construct a two-classroom block. The classroom block was by arrangement built by the Zambian Army on our behalf. I want to thank the Zambian Army for their effort in making our small but historic donation a reality.

Let me reiterate that our Government and the people of Zimbabwe attach great importance to the significance of this historical event which symbolises the courage and patriotism of the Zambian people and attests to the country’s contribution towards the goals for liberty, freedom and peace in Africa. Zimbabwe will forever be indebted to the Zambian people for accommodating and supporting Zimbabweans during their liberation struggle. Rest assured that we remain committed to the preservation of the historical events and sites like the Kavalamanja Battle site, as this is the only way knowledge about such heroic events can be passed on to future generations.

We cherish the strong bilateral relations and unity between our two countries that was nurtured over the years by our founding fathers which continue to grow under the wise leadership of our two Presidents, His Excellency, President Hakainde Hichilema and President E.D Mnangagwa.

As I conclude, let me once again extend my special appreciation to the Government and the people of the Republic of Zambia and in particular the people of Kavalamanja and Kakaro villages who are here with us today and whose remarkable stories of courage and heroism will forever be cherished by the people of Zimbabwe. It is the legacy of heroes and heroines who perished here and those still alive that continues to inspire us in upholding the values which they fought for.

Thank you once again Honourable Minister, for inviting us to the 45th anniversary of this historic event which should continue to spur us to re-dedicate ourselves in defending the gains of our liberation struggle against neo-colonialism.

I thank you.

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